Port Information

Portsmouth is one of the busiest harbours in the country with the grand total for significant movements being around 130,000 a year. There are also around 5000 recreational craft which moor in the harbour and many more visit each year.

King's Harbour Master

What we do

In 1865 the Dockyard Ports Regulation Act was passed, giving KHM extensive powers. The main purpose of KHM is to oversee and enforce the Act. Cascading from this piece of primary legislation is the Order in Council relating to KHM’s area, The Dockyard Port of Portsmouth Order 2005. Together, the Act and the Order provide KHM with powers to issue directions to all vessels within the Dockyard Port, be they commercial, private or military. The powers of the KHM are also delegated to specifically authorised Deputies and Assistants, including VTS Supervisors.

The limits of the Dockyard Port cover not only Portsmouth Harbour itself, but also includes all the waters from near Cowes in the West to Hayling Island down to Sandown Bay in the East with the single exception of Bembridge Harbour. The Naval Base itself comprises only a small part of the geographical area of the Dockyard Port.

Learn more about the historic dockyard


Harbour Control

Traffic co-ordination for shipping entering and leaving Portsmouth Harbour is performed by Harbour Control which is manned 24 hours a day by trained Vessel Traffic Service personnel. All vessels over 20 metres in length must obtain permission before entering, leaving or moving within the harbour.

Admiralty Pilots provide pilotage support to warships entering and leaving the harbour, but also when they move between berths and docks within the harbour. When ships are taken into or out of dry dock, they will always be involved and responsible for the safety of the ships for the majority of the evolution. 

The most famous and historically important ships in the harbour are MARY ROSE, VICTORY and WARRIOR. Portsmouth is Britain’s premier Naval Base and home to the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, the largest ships ever commission in to the Royal Navy. A busy Defence asset, on any day you will find around 8,000 people working in the base.

Tide tables

This information is produced by permission of the UK Hydrographic Office. All times are given in Local Time and are adjusted for British Summer Time (BST) where appropriate.

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